amestramgram

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Hi, at my school in the basic science classes, they make sure to throw in weird questions to make sure that they get a normal distribution of grades on every single test. They always want a certain amount of each grade, and if the test averages are too high, or if there are "too many" As, they make sure to make the test harder so that it doesn't happen again. Does anyone know why administrators place such strong emphasis on a normal distribution of grades? They seem so disappointed when the students do well on class tests (but if they do well on NBME tests or the USMLE the administrators are happy). A test for them is good if the statistics show that "high performing candidates" scored well and "low performing candidates" were excluded - but that usually makes for questions that are difficult to understand or use very convoluted English with the explicit intent to trick students (or they might just mislead the students in class in the first place). Why does this have to happen?

thanks
 

DrYoda

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They want a normalish distribution because it can be used to evaluate. If you make it so easy that everyone does awesome it's not a very useful evaluative tool since most of the scores will be clumped in a small range. Likewise if the test is too hard.
 

amestramgram

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what are they evaluating?
 

amestramgram

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then why are there so many questions that ask us to memorize and regurgitate facts without any thinking at all? I have lost the ability to think because anatomy has asked me to memorize hundreds of facts and regurgitate.
 

turkeyjerky

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then why are there so many questions that ask us to memorize and regurgitate facts without any thinking at all? I have lost the ability to think because anatomy has asked me to memorize hundreds of facts and regurgitate.
it's a combination of laziness and just being bad at writing questions. I really agree with what you wrote above--at least at my school, most tests consist of about 70% ridiculously simple factual recall (this lets pretty much anyone who puts at least any effort at all pass), 15% moderately difficult application questions (probably written by the minority of professors who give a damn) and 15% bizarro factoid questions (these serve to separate the top 50% of the class).

It's a shame, there's either an inability or a refusal to write an appropriately challenging test. It really sucks the life out of you, makes studying a pain in the ass and leaves you feeling cheated when you walk out of a test.
 

Jolie South

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then why are there so many questions that ask us to memorize and regurgitate facts without any thinking at all? I have lost the ability to think because anatomy has asked me to memorize hundreds of facts and regurgitate.
When you hit the wards, you're going to be thankful for knee-jerk regurgitation of anatomy. An attending will ask you a random nerve or vessel that you haven't thought about since first year and if you knew it cold, it will automatically pop into your head. I can't begin to explain how dumb you feel when you have to pull out the "umm, well, it's in XYZ location, so I guess it's so-and-so nerve."
 

Disinence2

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When you hit the wards, you're going to be thankful for knee-jerk regurgitation of anatomy. An attending will ask you a random nerve or vessel that you haven't thought about since first year and if you knew it cold, it will automatically pop into your head. I can't begin to explain how dumb you feel when you have to pull out the "umm, well, it's in XYZ location, so I guess it's so-and-so nerve."
Aren't you lucky! Those never seem to pop into my head.
 
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When you hit the wards, you're going to be thankful for knee-jerk regurgitation of anatomy. An attending will ask you a random nerve or vessel that you haven't thought about since first year and if you knew it cold, it will automatically pop into your head. I can't begin to explain how dumb you feel when you have to pull out the "umm, well, it's in XYZ location, so I guess it's so-and-so nerve."
Really? I am still in first year and I forgot much of the anatomy that I knew cold. By the time I hit third year I wont have a chance in hell of remembering most of it.
 

Jolie South

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Really? I am still in first year and I forgot much of the anatomy that I knew cold. By the time I hit third year I wont have a chance in hell of remembering most of it.
An anatomical structure will sort of come out of my subconscious. I'm usually unsure it's correct, but I blurt it out anyways. I'm right most of the time.